Volume I, No. 6 July, 2008
Journal of Transparency Studies
LATEST CORRUPTION STUDY
POOREST OF POOR THE VICTIMS
ith media regularly exposing high-level the fact that maternity cases should be admitted free
scams, we have become inured to and the mothers get an allowance.of Rs 1,400. After
corruption. Though the booty runs into childbirth, Dalip was asked for an additional Rs
hundreds of crores, it seems to have little effect on 1,000, which he did not have. Devorani was ejected
middle class life. The money pouring into malls, from the hospital though bleeding and unconscious.
housing estates, new cars and luxury goods suggests She died in her village.
that some of us may be beneficiaries rather than vic- Shanti, an ageing widow in Naupada village in
tims of the virus. Paying bribes has become little Orissa forced to work as an agricultural labourer,
more than a nuisance, the grease to get things done; thought she would get a permanent shelter when she
taking it attracts little opprobrium. heard that her name featured in the Indira Awaz
The real cost of corruption falls on those least able Yojana list for a house. Illiterate, she asked the
to pay; on those crippled by the demand for a few Sarpanch for help with the formalities, but he
rupees. Their fate does not make headlines though the demanded Rs 5,000. Unable to pay, she watched
suffering involved may be immense. The millions while the house was allotted to someone else.
belonging to the BPL, or Below Poverty Line, catego-
ry, live on the edge of survival. They are the poorest
of the poor. Their plight is officially recognised by the
funds sanctioned to alleviate their distress. But they
are least capable of complaining or securing media
attention as bribes are demanded for funds and facil-
ities meant for them. The extent of the scam and the
human tragedy involved is exposed by the latest TII-
CMS corruption study summarised in this issue.
The study brings out the shocking fact that as many
as one-third of the millions of BPL families in our
country pay bribes to secure access to services to
which they are entitled. Figures do not bring out the
tragedy for the victims as much as personal accounts
of their suffering. In Kanpur. for instance, Dalip, the
husband of Devorani, a young dalit mother aged 25,
had to pay Rs 500 for admission to a hospital when
the birth of a child was imminent. This, in spite of
Editor: Ajit Bhattacharjea
A TII-CMS Survey on corruption across the country
The Virus Hits BPL Families - 2
shows how corruption has hit the poor
Some Positive Trends The former Chief Vigilance Commissioner look at the
(N.Vittal) - 11 brighter side of the country
Transforming Rural India A former civil servant writes about the changes in rural
(Lalit Mathur) - 13 life brought by the rural Job scheme
A Lifeline for the Poor The author draws a vivid picture of how the scheme
(P, Sainath) - 16 has benefited the poor, who seem to want it stretched
beyond the present minimum100 days
Murder of Activist - 18 A report on the murder of an activist of NREGS in
Jharkhand allegedly by a mafia
RIGHT TO INFORMATION
CIC Pulls UP Department - 20 Personnel Department, told to show file noting
RTI Magic Wand For Villagers - 21 Thousands of villagers are now using RTI
Letters To The Editor
The coverage given to the National Rural novel features are required to be mentioned. With the
Employment Guarantee Scheme (TR April Issue) is very help of Sh Arvind Mafatlal through his Trust we distrib-
exhaustive and rightly so as the issue deserves national uted widely supplement nutrition called Sukhadi to
attention. You might be knowing that I was Secretary to workers and their families. When we experienced short-
the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, late Sh Vasant age of junior engineers, we involved engineering col-
Rao Naik, who started for the fist time in India an leges to send their students to help the department. If I
Employment Guarantee Scheme early in1970s. Of remember right late Dr V. Subramaniam who was the
course, the then Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly late Revenue Secretary in charge of the Scheme had pro-
Sh Page gave very valuable intellectual guidance and duced a good substantive document on the subject.
practical help. Maharashtra was then experiencing in I am therefore happy to see you are highlighting both
1972 very serious scarcity and famine conditions when the negatives and positives of the implementation of
we were employing almost five million workers. this revolutionary scheme to spread prosperity to the
I am happy to say that we made a success of the rural areas and at the same time to create infrastructure
scheme because of full political backing, full involve- for sutainable development.
ment of grassroot social workers and very close moni- B.G. Deshmukh,
toring. Ministers were given certain districts to look after Former Union Cabinet Secretary &
the scheme in those areas. The State Government had Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister
imposed some special taxation to meet the financial bur-
den in the wake of the Bangladesh war. The special levy This is a very valuable reference document, bringing
was continued after the war was over and used to together excellent material on RTI.
finance the Employment Guanantee Scheme. Some Anant Trivedi, Delhi
CORRUPTION : PERCEPTION & EXPERIENCE
In 2000, when CMS first initiated these annual studies on feature of CMS methodology has been to recognize that
corruption involving citizens, some people wondered why corruption has two sides, each sustaining the other and
we were frittering our resources, since corruption had reinventing itself. One is perception, the dimension which
become a "fact of life" in India and was beyond redemp- is relatively easy to talk about. The second is actual expe-
tion. Even when CMS studies in 2003 and 2005 showed rience of corruption. Perception and experience are often
that corruption involving citizens had declined, however two separate issues requiring separate, but parallel efforts.
marginally, in certain public services, those who relied That is what "CMS PEE model" is all about. This model
more on perception were skeptical. Planning Commission has brought out "the gap" between "Perception" and
had in its Xth Plan The CMS Model "Experience". The other
Report noted that The uniqueness of the CMS PEE model is that aspect is "Estimation" of
"Corruption is most total money involved in
it is not limited to quantifying “perception”
endemic and entrenched corruption. It is arguably
in general terms but goes much beyond in
manifestation of poor as yet another tool to
specific context and also quantifies experi-
governance in Indian sensitize the nation
society, so much so it has ence in specific contexts and in a specific about its seriousness so
almost become an time context. And then, based on both, the that corruption is not
accepted reality and a way model estimates in monitory terms the seen as "high-return-
of life". In the XIth Five extent of corruption in the process of citi- low-risk activity".
Year Plan too, it some- zens availing public services. Perceptions are accu-
what reiterated that Most other indices, including the global mulated impressions,
"good governance" is not index by Transparency International, are based on one's own
possible without address- based only on perception. Also, a second fea- immediate and past
ing corruption in its vari- ture of CMS PEE model is that it involves a experience and those of
ous manifestations, espe- large sample of specific users of public neighbours/ friends.
cially in the context of services in context. More importantly, per-
basic services. The ulti- ceptions these days to a
mate proof of "inclusive growth", for "bridging the large extent are also moulded on the way corruption is por-
divide" and equity goals is the extent of access to essential trayed and hyped, particularly, in the visual media.
services by those "below the poverty line". For, inadequate Experience, on the other hand, is where a citizen or house-
access means denying them an opportunity to share the hold does not get the service as a matter of course, but as
benefits of national growth. Also because the poor are dis- a discretion and in exchange for certain money as bribe or
proportionately affected by corruption since they depend deprived of access for not paying bribe or having to use "a
more on public services. contact" to influence the service provider. This study also
India Corruption Studies have been concerned precisely provides a benchmark for the extent of awareness about
with this aspect, in the context of the basic and need-based RTI Act among BPL households across the country and
public services that a citizen frequently avails. A unique their use of the two-year-old Act.
Figure: Perception about corruption is much higher than actual
Percent of BPL hh
80 70 69
60 46 47
50 36 36
40 28 32
20 8 11 11
Source: TII -CMS India Perception Experience
Corruption Study 2007
July, 2008 Transparency Review 1
THE VIRUS HITS BPL FAMILIES
This TII-CMS India Corruption Study 2007 is 2.0 Coverage and Methodology
unique. Unlike earlier annual surveys of CMS, this The survey covered 22,728 randomly selected
Focussed on BPL households, mostly in rural India. BPL households across the States. The fieldwork
The coverage of this study included all parts of the was conducted between November 2007 and
country. January 2008. The concepts and methodology for
The study, the study were finalized after extensive consulta-
Public Distribution System (PDS)
like the tions with experts and those familiar with the
Hospital earlier services covered.
School Education (up to class XII) ones, is The CMS methodology for the study involved
Electricity based on household level sample survey exit interviews at
Water supply CMS PEE service delivery outlets, discussions with the con-
Need Based Services: m o d e l cerned "service providers" in each case and obser-
National Rural Employment Guarantee where the vations on display of information at the service
scope is not delivery points, etc. Large-scale surveys spread
only limit- across States of varying performance and services
Land Records/ Registration
ed to per- of distinct and different characteristics, will not
Forest ceptions have same reliability when one looks at the data
Housing about cor- from a micro level of an individual State or service.
Banking ruption in Experienced investigators and researchers con-
Police general, ducted the fieldwork after pilot testing of instru-
TII-CMS India Corruption Study-2007 but percep- ments and field orientation. The fieldwork was
tion in the independently validated by sub-sample checks.
specific context of a service and, more importantly, About 150 investigators were engaged for collec-
actual experience of paying bribe by BPL house- tion of the field data and a dozen senior researchers
holds in availing one or more of the 11 selected of CMS were involved in quality control. The pre-
public services. Depending on frequency of interac- liminary findings were further put through a series
tion, the eleven services are divided broadly into of extended consultations with experts. The analy-
"basic services" (PDS, Hospital Service, School sis benefited from discussions with some 35 outside
Education (up to 12th), Electricity Service and experts in all.
Water Supply Service) and "need based services" The perceptions about corruption in the specific
(Land Records / Registration, Housing Service, context of the 11 services include whether corrup-
Forest, NREGS, Banking Service and Police tion is viewed as having increased or declined in the
Service (traffic and crime). The study does not last one year and whether presence of any redressal
include operational irregularities in the system and provisions were noticed or not. Similarly, experi-
even corruption that ence of corruption includes
does not involve citi- actual bribe paid or use of
zens directly. This a "contact" in availing a
round of India service in the previous one
Corruption Study 2007 year. In this process, the
is designed and con- study also brings out the
ducted by Centre For percentage of BPL house-
Media Studies (CMS) holds who could not avail
in collaboration with the particular service as
the Transparency they could not pay bribe or
International India they had no "contact".
(TII). Together, these three types
2 Transparency Review July, 2008
indicate the total size of BPL households caught in Police Service was high in all States, but the ranks
the trap or affected by corruption while trying to of other services showed variations across the
avail the services. For example, overall, more than states. Given the nature of need based services
40 percent of the BPL households, who approached which are monopolistic or involve asset creation or
Police Service, Land and Housing Services in the volume, these services ranked high on corruption as
previous one year, either (actually) paid bribe or compared to basic services.
used a contact. Relatively, higher percentage of 5.0 Relative Position of States on
people paid bribe in the case of "need based servic- Corruption
es" than in (the case of) "basic services". Another
This TII-CMS India Corruption Study 2007,
interesting fact is that there is not much difference
brought out that corruption involving citizens
in the extent of corruption that BPL households
including BPL households, is all pervasive across
experience in urban and rural areas.
the States and public services. No State or service
3.0 Estimation of Bribe is anywhere near "zero corruption" level.
Based on the incidence of bribe paid by sample Nevertheless, taking the degree of variation from
BPL households, an estimate is made for the total State-to-State and service-to-service, the States are
amount paid as bribe by BPL households Levels of Overall Corruption in States
in the country during the last one year in (involving BPL households)
the eleven services. The total bribe (Arranged in alphabetical order)
amount involved in a year in BPL house- States Levels of corruption
holds availing the eleven services cov- by size Alarming Very High High Moderate
ered in this study is estimated as Rs. Big Assam Karnataka Chhattisgarh Andhra Pradesh
Bihar Rajasthan Delhi Haryana
8,830 million. Jammu & Kashmir Tamil Nadu Gujarat Himachal Pradesh
4.0 Services Ranked Madhya Pradesh Jharkhand Maharashtra
School Education (up to class XII in Uttar Pradesh Kerala Punjab
Government schools) among the 11
services studied stood last in the ranks Small/ Goa Meghalaya Arunachal Pradesh Chandigarh
list of the level of corruption. But when UTs Nagaland Sikkim Manipur Mizoram
one looks at this service individually, it Pondichery
is also entrenched in corruption involv- Tripura
ing BPL households. That Police Service
stood number one corroborating the general impres- grouped into four levels to explain the extent/level
sion. Land Records / Registration and House/Plot, of corruption based on a weightage scheme -
which are specially tailored for BPL households, Moderate, High, Very High and Alarming. This
stood at two and three in the rank, a matter of con- grouping and positioning of States is limited to
cern. While the level and extent of corruption in interaction of BPL households in availing the
eleven services covered in this study.
Ranking of Services
The grouping of States on corruption reflects rel-
ative position of States in the context of all eleven
Police 1 services. States under "alarming" group calls for
Land Records/ Registration 2 serious introspection, restructuring and even reposi-
Housing 3 tioning of certain services meant for BPL house-
Water Supply Service 4 holds.
NREGS 5 In Himachal Pradesh the level of corruption is
Forest 6 "moderate" in all the 11 services studied whereas
Electricity 7 in the case Madhya Pradesh and Assam corrup-
Health 8 tion level in all the 11 services was high or very
PDS 9 high or alarming. In Delhi and West Bengal, for
Banking 10 example, corruption level was moderate in most
School Education (up to class XII) 11 services surveyed.
Among smaller States (North-East and UTs), in
TII-CMS India Corruption Study - 2007
July, 2008 Transparency Review 3
Nagaland and Goa, most of the 11 services had high functionary within the delivery set up was a revela-
or very high or alarming level of corruption. tion, particularly because quite often the reasons for
Whereas it was moderate in Chandigarh and repeat visits were absence of staff and/or their apa-
Tripura. thetic attitude. This lent strength to the perception
that the poor were not a priority even in the case of
Highlights: At National Level some of the programmes designed for them.
F TII-CMS India Corruption Study 2007 F Procedural delays are the other reasons that
confirmed a wide gap between perception and made BPL households vulnerable to paying bribe or
actual experience about corruption in public depriving them from availing the service. There is
services irrespective of recent measures to hardly any evidence in this study that IT or E-gov-
improve service delivery and curb corruption. ernance initiatives taken on a large scale in different
F About one-third of BPL household, across States, involving some of the services, made much
the country paid bribe in the last one year to avail difference in the levels of perception about corrup-
one or more of the 11 public services covered in the tion or even actual experience.
study, which showed that the poor were not spared F Police and Land Records/ Registration
even in the case of targeted programmes. services stood out for their "alarming level" of cor-
F In the last couple of years, several initia- ruption involving BPL households among the 11
tives had been taken in the country to improve services covered in this study. Whereas, School
delivery of public services. Citizens' Charters, RTI Education (up to class XII) and Banking Service
Act, Social Audit, e-governance measures includ- (including postal service) came out with "moderate
ing the massive computerization, etc were among level" of corruption, implying that even these serv-
some of these. The benefits of these measures have ices were not free from corruption.
not substantially percolated down to the poor as yet. F As regards the relative position of States on
F The percentage of BPL households who corruption in availing the 11 public services by BPL
paid bribes, out of those who were availing the households, Assam, J & K, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh
services covered in the last one year ranged from and Uttar Pradesh had an
3.4 percent in the "alarming level" of
case of School It is estimated that corruption, while
Education to as high bribes paid by BPL families Himachal Pradesh,
a 48 percent in the Uttaranchal, Delhi and
case of Police in the last one year for Punjab had "moderate
Service. availing 11 public services level".
F About four F The important
percent of BPL totalled a staggering Rs 883 fact is that the poor
households used a crores of which the police deserve better attention
"contact" in the pre-
vious year to avail claimed Rs 214 crores
in getting access to
public services, partic-
services such as PDS, ularly some of the tar-
School Education, Banking Services; and as high as geted programmes meant specially for them, than
10 percent in the case of Housing and Land they seem to be getting now.
Records/Registration. F Despite claims and some initiatives for
F Nearly two percent of BPL households redressal of complaints in services like Police, these
could not avail PDS, School Education and had not helped either in reducing perceptions nor
Electricity, as they could not pay bribe or had no experiences of BPL households. However, in the
contact or influence to get access to services. In case of Schools, and Banking Services some dent
fact, in the last one year, more than four percent of seems to have been made.
BPL households could not avail Land F Overall, in the case of Police, Land
Records/Registration, NREGS, Housing and Police Records Registration and Housing Services in par-
Service for the same reason. ticular, a higher percentage of BPL households who
F The fact that most of the poor who claimed tried to avail these services found that corruption
to have paid bribe did so directly to one or the other had increased in the last one year.
4 Transparency Review July, 2008
F The percent of households with BPL F On grievance redressal measures taken
income but not having a "BPL card" was relatively within the PDS service, every second BPL house-
high in North-East states, West Bengal and Delhi. holds opined that the situation had not changed in
F The study estimated that Rs. 8,830 million, the last one year while 26 per cent felt that it had, in
in all, was paid as bribe by BPL households in the fact, deteriorated.
last one year, in availing 11 public services. It is Hospital Services
estimated that the poorest households of our coun- F Around 80 percent of the BPL households
try paid Rs. 2,148 million to police, as bribe. interacted with a public health service in past one
Public Distribution System year.
F It is estimated that around 47.23 million F Forty eight percent of the BPL household
BPL households (88%) interacted with the Public believed that corruption existed in the Government
Distribution System during the last one year. health services.
F More than half (54 per cent) of the BPL F Out of the total BPL households who inter-
households had no doubt that corruption existed in acted, more than half of them faced one or other dif-
the PDS. In fact, around one-third of the BPL ficulty in getting their work done.
households felt that corruption had increased in the F Nearly fifty percent of the BPL households
PDS service during the past year, while another 46 thought that corruption had remained the same;
percent did not notice any change in the corruption while another one fourth felt it had increased during
level within the service. past one year.
F Around 10 percent of the BPL households F Almost 15 percent of the total BPL house-
either paid bribe or used contact to avail one or the holds paid bribe or used a contact to get the service.
other services of the PDS during the last one year. Another 2 percent were denied health services
F The total amount of bribe paid by these because they could not pay bribe as demanded in
BPL households in the PDS during the last one year the last one year.
was estimated to be Rs F Mostly (in 90
458 million. percent cases) bribe was
F Among the rea- paid to the officials direct-
sons cited for paying ly.
bribes, getting a new F The total amount
ration card was reported of bribe paid by these
by majority of the sur- BPL households in the
veyed BPL households Hospital Service during
(44 per cent). Around 30 the last one year was esti-
percent of rural BPL mated to be Rs 870 mil-
households paid bribe to lion.
take the quota of ration F Only 14 percent
from the Fair Price Shop. of the BPL households
F Among house- thought that the depart-
holds interacting with PDS service for reasons ment had taken initiative/s to check corruption in
other than collecting their monthly ration, around service.
94 percent had to visit three times or more to avail F A little more than one-fourth (28 percent)
services like getting a new ration card, to change of the BPL households thought that the information
the ration shop, among others. is available at the service delivery point.
F Three out of four BPL households, who F Almost 23 percent of the BPL household
paid bribe to avail services during the last one year, thought that grievance redressal services had
paid it directly to the concerned official/staff. improved in the last one year.
F More than one out of ten BPL households Electricity Services
(13%) acknowledged that measures had been taken F An estimated 53 percent (around 28.4 mil-
by the State Governments to check corruption in lion) BPL households at the national level interacted
PDS service, during the last one year. with the electricity service during the last one year.
July, 2008 Transparency Review 5
F The percentage of interaction of the BPL redressal service of the department had improved
households with the department varied in three cat- (21 percent). However, comparatively a higher
egories of States. The highest percentage (67 per- percentage (23 percent) of the BPL households
cent) of the BPL households interacted with the thought that the information was easily available
service in the last one year in better off States, fol- in the department.
lowed by average rated States, where 52 percent
people interacted with the service. Only 35 percent School Education Services
BPL households interacted with the service in the F An estimated forty percent (21.47 million)
last one year in below average rated states. BPL households at the national level interacted with
F At national level, nearly 10 percent (2.7 the School Education service in the last one year.
million) of the BPL households, who interacted F The percentage of interaction of the BPL
with the electricity service, paid bribe. A total esti- household was higher in above average Educational
mated amount paid as bribe by the BPL households Development Index (EDI) states.
in the year was Rs. 1,040 million. F At the national level, 3.1 percent BPL
F Around one-third of the BPL households households paid bribe in School Education service
paid bribe for getting new in the last one year. The
connection (in rural areas 36 amount paid as bribe by BPL
percent and urban areas 28 households was estimated to
percent). The second highest be Rs. 120 million.
percentage (nearly 23 per- F Among those
cent) of the BPL households who paid bribe, a majority
paid bribe to the electricity paid for new admission,
service to get their faulty issuance of certificate and
meter corrected (in urban promotion of their children
areas 26 percent and in rural from one class to another.
areas 21 percent). F At the national
F At the national level, level, 28 percentage of BPL
44 percent of the BPL house- households felt that there was
holds felt that corruption exist- corruption in the service.
ed in the department. As high Comparatively, a low per-
as 49 percent BPL households centage (20 percent) BPL
in below average rated States households in the State of
and 46 percentage in average rated States and, com- above average EDI feel that there was corruption in
paratively low percent (38 percent) in better-rated school education. While average and below average
States, felt that corruption existed in the electricity EDI states, 31 percent BPL households thought so.
service. F At the national level, about 47 percent of
F At the national level, nearly fifty percent of BPL households said the level of corruption in the
the BPL households felt that the level of corruption School Education service had remained the same in
remained same in the last one year. Only 22 percent the last one year while 37 percent it had come
BPL households felt that the level of corruption in down. For about 18 percent the level of corruption
the last one year had come down. In better rated has increased in the last one year.
states 30 percent BPL households were of the view F More than 80 percent of those who paid
that corruption in the electricity service had bribe did so directly to the officials/staff of the
decreased in the last one year. school.
F Of those BPL households who paid bribe, F Nearly one-fourth of BPL households at
more than eighty percent (81 percent) paid it direct- the national level felt that the education service has
ly to the official/staff of the service. taken initiatives to check corruption in the last one
F Very few of the BPL households at the year. Thirty six percent of the BPL households felt
national level thought that the electricity depart- that information was easily available in the depart-
ment had taken initiatives to check corruption in ment and 33 percent felt grievance redressal service
the department (15 percent) and that the grievance of the department had improved now.
6 Transparency Review July, 2008
F Overall, corruption level in school educa- cent BPL households felt that measures taken by the
tion involving BPL households was relatively less Government had checked corruption in Water
than in the case of other ten services covered in this Supply services to some extent or other.
F (The four indicators of access, infrastruc- Forest Services
ture, teacher related and outcomes used by the F Around 20 percent of the BPL households
National University of Educational Planning and interacted for availing forest services in the last one
Administration (NUEPA) for grading schools do year. It should be kept in mind that a substantial
not seem to be directly related to the level of corrup-number of India's tribal people depend on forest for
tion involving BPL households.) part of their livelihood and sustenance.
F The total amount of bribe paid by these
Water Supply Services BPL households during the last one year was esti-
F It is estimated that around 14% BPL house- mated at about Rs 240 million.
holds (7.5 million) interacted with the Water Supply F Around 13 percent of the BPL households,
Service during the last one year. who interacted with forest related service, either
F Of the total BPL households 9 percent paid bribe or used contact to avail the services dur-
households paid bribe to avail water supply servic- ing the last one year.
es during the last one year. F Among reasons cited for paying bribes,
F The total amount of bribe paid by BPL majority reported permission for picking fuel wood
households in the water service during the last one and for getting saplings.
year is estimated to be around Rs 239 million. F Around 36 percent of these BPL house-
F About 15 percent of the BPL households holds were of the opinion that corruption existed in
either paid bribe or used a contact to avail water forest service. A little more than half (54 percent) of
supply service during the last one year. them believed that the level of corruption had
F Among reasons cited for paying bribe, remained same.
installation/maintenance of hand pumps was report- F Majority (91 percent) of the BPL house-
ed by majority (49%) of the BPL households. holds, who paid bribe during the last one year, had
F Of the households who visited for purpose paid directly to the concerned official/staff.
other than paying bill, 56 percent visited three times F Only 17 percent of the BPL households
or more for the water supply service during the last acknowledged measures taken by Government to
one year. Majority (60%) of them interacted three check corruption in the forest service.
times or more for installation/maintenance of hand F About grievance redressal measures, only
pump. one-fifth of the BPL households had acknowledged
F About 42 percent of the BPL households, one or the other measures that have been taken
who interacted with water supply service, thought within the forest service in the last one-year.
that corruption existed in the department. Around
one-fourth of the BPL households felt that corrup- Banking Services
tion had increased, F An estimated 38
percent (20.4 mil-
while half of them
believed that the level
In the case of water lion) BPL house-
of corruption had supply nearly 50 percent of holds interacted with
the banking service,
in the last one year.
those interviewed cited including the postal
F Of those who installation or maintenance services, during the
paid bribe to get their of hand pumps as the last one year. (Under
work done in the last NREGS, some fifty
one year, 81 percent reason for their paying million workers are
of them paid bribe bribe. Understandable con- supposed to get their
directly to the depart- account opened
ment official/staff. sidering how vital water is locally to get
F About 16 per- for sustenance. wages.)
July, 2008 Transparency Review 7
F The total amount of bribe paid by rural
BPL households in the NREGS during the past year
was estimated to be Rs 71.5 million.
F Forty percent of the rural BPL households
surveyed, interacted with NREGS. Out of these, 61
per cent interacted to get registered as a beneficiary
F Among rural BPL households, those who
interacted with the concerned office or staff for
NREGS during the last one year, 37 per cent said
that officials / staff was corrupt.
F The total amount of bribe paid by BPL F Around 47 per cent of the rural BPL house-
households to avail banking services during the holds held the opinion that corruption existed in the
past year is estimated as Rs 831.7 million. department. Thirty one percent of the BPL house-
F Among reasons cited for paying bribe, holds felt that corruption level had in fact increased
more than half of the households (58%) paid it for over the last one year.
seeking loan. F The study showed that 14 per cent of the
F Nearly three-fourth of the BPL households, BPL households, who interacted for NREGS, either
who paid bribe, paid it directly to the staff of bank- paid bribe or used contact to avail its services.
ing services. F Half of the BPL households, who paid
F For half of the BPL households, who bribe, did so to get registered as a household willing
accessed banking services, procedural delays such to work under the NREG scheme.
as time taken to open new account, documentation F More than half the BPL households, who
process, time taken to deposit or withdraw money, paid bribe, paid it directly to the concerned govern-
get the loan sanctioned, were some main causes of ment staff for availing the scheme.
inconvenience and harassment. F Only 13 per cent of BPL households felt
F As much as 42 percent of the BPL house- that initiatives taken in the last one year to check
holds felt that staff in banking services indulged in corruption in NREGS had been effective.
corrupt practices or remain absent from their seats F Eight out of 10 households believed that
during office hours. there had been no change in situation or it had dete-
F One out of every four BPL households felt riorated, as far as redressal of their grievances relat-
that corruption existed in banks and well over half ed to NREG Scheme was concerned.
the BPL households felt that corruption in banks
had in fact either increased or no change was
noticed during the past year.
About 7 crores was
F Less than one-fourth of the BPL house- paid as bribe money under
holds noticed one or the other initiative by the NREGS; half of it to get
banking sector to curb corruption.
F Around 37 percent of the BPL households registered for job under
interacting with banks acknowledged improve- the scheme.
ment in the grievance redressal at the bank level
while for the rest the situation remained unchanged
the had deteriorated in the last one year. Police Services
F Across the country, around 10 percent (5.6
National Rural Employment million) BPL households interacted with the police
service during the previous year. Of them, an esti-
Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) mated that around 2.5 million BPL households paid
F Across the country, around 7 per cent (0.96 bribe to police in one connection or other.
million) of rural BPL households paid bribe to avail F The total amount of bribe paid by the BPL
the benefits of NREG Scheme during the last one households to the Police during the previous year
year. was estimated as Rs 2,148.2 million.
8 Transparency Review July, 2008
F The main reason for
interaction with police serv-
ice for BPL households was
to file a complaint (51 %).
F Among the BPL
households interacting with
police during the year, 73 per
cent opined that police per-
sonnel were corrupt. The
level and extent of corrup-
tion in police service was
high in all States and was
highest among all the servic-
es covered in this study.
F About 78 per cent of
these BPL households hold the opinion that corrup- interacting with the housing service felt that the
tion existed in the service. Over half of the BPL department had taken initiatives towards reducing
households, felt that it had increased during the pre- corruption.
vious year. F As high as two out of five BPL households
F Two out of three BPL households who interacting with the housing service either paid
interacted with the police service during previous bribe or used a contact to avail its services.
year either 'paid bribe' or 'used a contact'. F Sixty percent of the BPL household paid
F Around half of the BPL households paid bribe for allotment of plot or constructing house and
bribe to ensure that their complaint could get regis- rural BPL households paid more than urban.
tered. F About 63 percent of the BPL households,
F Nine out of ten households, who paid who reported paying bribe to avail the service, paid
bribe, paid directly to the police personnel. it to the staff of the housing service. Incidence of
F Only 7 per cent of the BPL households said paying to the staff for a service was more in the
that one or other initiatives was taken towards rural areas.
reducing corruption. F It is estimated that around 1.5 million BPL
F As regards grievance redressal measures, 9 households paid bribe.
out of 10 households believed that the situation in F The total amount of bribe paid by BPL
the police service had not changed in the last one households during the past year was estimated to be
year or had deteriorated even further. around Rs. 1,566 million.
Housing Services Land Records And Registration
F Of the BPL households surveyed, about 14 Services
percent interacted with the housing service in the F Of the total BPL households in the country,
last one year. an estimated 18 percent households paid bribe to
F Around 70 percent of those who interacted avail land related services.
made repeated visits for allotment of a house/hous- F The total amount of bribe paid by BPL
ing site. households to the department for availing land
F About 78 percent reported facing some dif- related services during the past year was estimated
ficulty. One out of two felt that the 'corrupt staff' in to be Rs. 1,234 million.
the department and their corrupt practices were the F A little less than one-third (31 percent) of
main causes for difficulties. the BPL households reportedly paid bribe and one-
F Seventy percent of the BPL households tenth households claimed exerting influence to
who interacted with the department in the last one avail land related services.
year perceived that corruption existed in the service F Among those who paid bribe, nearly one-
and about 45 percent were of the opinion that in the fourth (22 percent) claimed to have paid it for
last one year corruption had increased. obtaining land records.
F Only 10 percent of the BPL household F A sizable proportion of households also
July, 2008 Transparency Review 9
paid bribe for availing services not directly services, held the opinion that corruption existed
related to land; about 16 percent of the house- in the concerned department.
holds paid bribe to get income certificate and F While 45 percent of them believed that
another 14 percent paid it for obtaining caste corruption had increased over the year about 43
certificate. percent felt that the level of corruption
F More than half of the BPL households remained same in the department dealing with
visited three times or more to avail the land land related services. Benefits of computeriza-
related services. Nearly one-fourth households tion had not percolated down to BPL house-
visited the concerned department three times or holds.
more for obtaining land record. F Only one-tenth BPL households were
F Of those who paid bribe to avail the aware about some initiatives taken by the States
land related services, as high as 82 percent of for curbing corruption. Nearly 12 percent
them paid bribe directly to the department offi- households acknowledged that grievance
cial/staff. redressal had been improved in the department
F About 69 percent of the BPL house- dealing with land related matters.
holds, who visited the department for land (More on CMS website: www.cmsindia.org)
Major Purposes for Paying Bribe
Purposes of paying (in that order)
PDS New card, for monthly quota, change address, change shop, addition, license
Hospital For bed, out patient, diagnostic service, medicine, ANC/PNC, operation,
School Education (up to class XII) New admission, certificates, attendance/ promotion, scholarship, hostel seat
Electricity New connection, meter repair, bill related, meter installation, bill adjustment,
agriculture connection, ensure better supply
Water Supply Installation / maintenance of hand pump, regularization of unauthorized
connection, meter installation, repair of pipe, irrigation water, supply of water
Need Based Services:
NREGS Registration / to get selected, issuance of job card, wage payment
Land Records/ Registration Income certificate, obtaining land record, sale/purchase deed, mutation, land
survey, caste certificate, property tax
Forest To pick fuel wood, for cutting trees, for saplings, to collect forest produce,
forest land for farming, for grazing
Police For filing complaint and FIR, as an accused, remove name as witness,
passport verification, verification for job, character certificate, violation of
Housing Allotment of plot/ house, release of house loan, toilet construction, ownership
Banking To take loan, open new A/c, pension, withdrawal, deferment of loan
TII-CMS India Corruption Study – 2007
10 Transparency Review July, 2008
SOME POSITIVE TRENDS
N.Vittal (former Chief Vigilance Commissioner)
As the Central Vigilance Another welcome development is the synergy of
Commissioner from 1998 to the efforts of the CMS and the Transparency
2002, I was directly connected International's India chapter for conducting annual
with the issue of fighting cor- corruption perception studies. The ranking of the
ruption in the Government of states in the country in terms of the corruption per-
India organisations. I stretched ception index is an important and useful addition to
the envelope to cover not only the organisations literature of the subject. While fully recognising
directly under the purview of the CVC but also the fact that corruption has been universal and has
bring the issue out of the closet and mobilise public been part of every society in history, what we can
awareness about corruption and its harmful impact say definitely is that if there has to be rule of law
on all aspects of society. In my extra curricular and healthy development in any country, elimina-
activities as CVC. I received the support of a num- tion of corruption is a sin qua non. If elimination is
ber of well wishers in different organisations. Dr. not possible at least the level of corruption must be
Bhaskar Rao of the Centre for Media Studies reduced to a minimum. Even here, we can make a
requires a special mention in this context. This is broad distinction between the corruption which
because, he has added an hitherto unavailable affects the common man or the poor and the corrup-
instrument in the literature on corruption in the tion which takes place more or less in a collusive
form of objective scientific surveys. manner at higher levels in society. The ideal would
Corruption has multi dimensions. Any effort to be to eliminate corruption at both the levels.
fight corruption will also have to be multi pronged. Nevertheless, removing corruption that affects the
One basic issue in the corruption scene is that many common man or the poor in a country like India
a time, people become emotionally excited. Those should be the pragmatic first step.
who are in the media focussed on details about par- As one looks back at the state of corruption in
ticular corruption cases and conducting sting oper- India, instead of bemoaning the loss of values and
ation. What was lacking was a larger objective per- extensive corruption, it is worthwhile to look at the
spective to assess the state of corruption and also positive developments that are taking place which
explore measures taken to check corruption. Berlin show that while the potential of India as emerging
based Transparency International, the NGO set up economic power is increasingly recognised, we can
to assess corruption, publishes annually the be reasonably sure that with increasing education
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in different and awareness about the developments that have
countries. This has emerged increasingly as an taken place, the level of corruption also can be
acceptable yardstick for comparative studies of cor- effectively brought down.
ruption in different countries. It has also set a The most significant development in recent times
precedent in building a literature and databases for is the Right to Information Act passed in 2005. This
an intelligent assessment for an informed debate in itself was the result of activists like Aruna Roy,
about the state of corruption. Dr. Bhaskar Rao of Dr. Jayaprakash Narain and Anna Hazare and oth-
CMS has made a unique contribution in undertak- ers who through their NGOs did a valuable service
ing every year, on a suggestion I made as CVC, to to the country by increasing awareness about cor-
conduct field studies and document the level of cor- ruption and exposing its dangers. The CMS has
ruption particularly affecting the common citizen also been studying the impact of the Right to
interacting with public offices. The reports pub- Information Act and how it is implemented. Like
lished from the year 2000 onwards provide a valu- any measure, RTI will also take its time. Healthy
able input for an informed debate on the state of conditions and conventions will have to be set up
corruption in the country. and developed. The Right to Information Act by
July, 2008 Transparency Review 11
itself is an important instrument in the hands of the in e-governance to private sector and establishing a
citizens to fight corruption and tackle it especially type of private public partnership to achieve this
when it affects the common man. goal should be undertaken immediately without
The second important development is the increas- standing on the formalities. Greater the application
ingly ubiquitous availability of mobile phones with of the IT in governance, greater the scope for trans-
camera. This has put an effective tool in the hands parency, accessibility of information, improvement
of every citizen who wants to fight corruption. He of services and reduction of corruption. I am aware
can become a citizen journalist and combined with of the dangers of cyber crimes, which go with the
the 24x7 news channels which are also proliferat- territory. But this can also be tackled with increas-
ing, conduct sting operations to expose corruption. ing knowledge and experience gained in this area.
It is true that we have also had very bad examples (iv) The 2004 judgement of the Supreme Court,
of sting operations undertaken with ulterior which forced the candidates in an election to
motives. Nevertheless, from the point of view of declare their criminal records and education qualifi-
instruments available today on anti-corruption, the cation and wealth should be fully utilised by the
combination of alert citizens armed with the cell NGOs and enlightened citizens who are fighting
phone camera with the 24x7 channels is a very wel- corruption to force the appropriate authority to
come development. investigate about the accumulation of wealth by the
The third major development is the increasing people in public life and see how they can be
penetration of information technology and its pres- brought to book. The long standing recommenda-
ence in different sectors of governance. E-gover- tion made by the CVC as well as the Election
nance has become the declared policy of many Commission that candidates against whom criminal
States and Central organisations and although the charges have been framed in the courts of law
progress has been not even, this development in should not be permitted to contest election till they
itself has created an environment where we can are cleared in the cases should be implemented.
bring greater transparency and accessibility to This will require political will and unless the TINA
information and ease of governance from the citi- situation is created the Government may not accept
zen's point of view. The effective computerisation this suggestion. But if we want to eliminate politi-
of the passenger reservation system in Railways cal corruption which is the root of all corruption in
and the many efforts in different States for improv- our country today, this cleansing operation to see
ing service to the public through E-Sewa etc are that law breakers do not become law makers must
very healthy developments. be given the highest priority. Positive develop-
What we need is a strategic approach to optimise ments at least on fighting corruption are taking
the benefits of the initiatives taken so far. place in India. This is also reflected in the succes-
(i) There should be a method of replicating the sive reports of the Transparency International. The
best practices in practically every State so that every passing of the Right to Information Act seem to
State need not reinvent the wheel. have increased the credibility of the Government of
(ii) Many a time, even within the State, depart- India and it has really concerned in fighting corrup-
ments are not able to interlink their databases tion in the comity of nations.
because of multiplicity of softwares. This problem It is easy to be pessimistic about fighting corrup-
of intra operability must be overcome urgently. tion in India. But the fact that institutions like the
This can be also done professionally to ensure that Central Vigilance Commission, Election
instead of starting from scratch, the efforts put in, Commission and the Supreme Court have been able
the investment made and the computerisation work to play a critical role in different levels to check
done so far is not wasted and the application of IT possibilities of corruption and ensure that the rights
extended more rapidly. of the citizen are protected leaves the hope that with
(iii) The question of scaling up the successful a healthy combination of vigilant organisation, our
cases rapidly should be taken on a priority basis. If educated citizens aware of their rights, and intelli-
inter service rivalries, seniority syndrome and gent and imaginative use of technology, corruption
bureaucratic approaches are coming in the way, the hopefully will become increasingly less in the
possibility of outsourcing the scaling up operations country both in public life and in business.
12 Transparency Review July, 2008
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, after two
years, has been found not only to provide a stable economic base
to households but is also directing capital investment to rural areas
and creating valuable assets that are changing the rural land-
scape. It has also resulted in attacks on social audit teams. One of
the activists was recently murdered. This section deals with the issue
in some detail.
TRANSFORMING RURAL INDIA
The potential has not even begun to be explored, 2006-07 and 3.1 in 2007-08) have so far been pro-
but it is greater than the green revolution. It is per- vided 220 crore person-days of employment, in
haps also more significant, for, it will not be con- which the participation by scheduled castes, sched-
fined to the relatively better off irrigated areas, and uled tribes and women has been high.
will directly benefit the poor. But the employment guarantee has another impor-
In recent times no programme for rural areas has tant aspect - the wages go to create assets, and these
received as much attention as the Employment also, are an integral part of the programme. There
Guarantee. Much has been written in the national are already reports of how this has begun to happen
media, and the programme somehow seems to be in - in Wayanad district of Kerala, elephant trenches
a state of continuous evaluation, of being "judged” now protect crops in hundreds of acres which earli-
all the time. Yet, it has only just completed two er were destroyed year after year; in the
years - not long enough to assess any programme, Sunderbans, illegal fishing has given way to irrigat-
and certainly not those which involve a process, and ed farming owing to the construction of field chan-
which require time to stabilise. nels to bring water; water tables have risen in
Somewhat surprisingly, little notice has been "backward" districts across the country because of
taken of the contribution of the National Rural tanks, check dams, anicuts, bunding and other such
Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) to works; in fact, in Dungarpur district of Rajasthan,
directing capital investment to rural areas - and to where the digging of wells was banned for years,
agriculture in particular. Of course, the guarantee of the groundwater situation has improved so much
100 days of wage employment is without doubt the that wells have now been permitted; in Villupuram
primary objective of the legislation, and the wage district there are villages where drinking water
earned is of enormous importance to the household wells save time and effort of women who no longer
- there are innumerable examples from across the have to carry potable water over long distances.
country of how the programme has enabled chil- These are all productive assets which yield direct
dren to go to school, improved nutrition within the benefits to the village.
family, increased wages, reduced indebtedness and Such investments are particularly relevant today,
migration and significantly, even empowered the when there is all-round concern at the slow rate of
poor. And directly, 5.2 crore households (2.1 in growth in agriculture (just 2.6 per cent), and the
July, 2008 Transparency Review 13
solution is seen in directing capital to rural areas - A refreshing feature of the employment guaran-
highlighted both in the Economic Survey and the tee is that the maintenance of the assets, including
Budget for 2008-09. care of plantations, is provided for in the
In fact the Act itself spells out the types of works programme. There is, therefore, no dependence
permitted - it focuses on the creation of durable on additional funds each year to ensure their
assets, especially for water conservation. The infor- continuing productivity.
mation from the field in the first year (for which While too much should not be read from the
details are available) shows that 75 per cent of the reports of one year, it is interesting that this trend
8.3 lakh works have been water-harvesting struc- continued also in the second year. There seems lit-
tures, minor irrigation tanks, community wells, land tle doubt that the NREGP projects are a valuable
development, flood control, plantations and so on. and timely investment in rural infrastructure.
Benefits include the A legitimate ques-
creation of over 12 tion then is regarding
crore cubic metres of the potential of
water storage capaci- NREGP projects for
ty, three lakh km of capital formation.
drainage and That this is substan-
embankments in tial, should be clear
water logged areas, from just one illustra-
3.5 lakh hectares tion.
each of plantations Works can also be
and land develop- taken up on individu-
ment. These con- als land holdings -
tribute also to but only of the poor -
drought proofing in members of the SCs,
low rainfall and STs, households
semi-desert regions. They, moreover, give immedi- below the poverty line (BPL), those benefited from
ate returns; for, the works are generally managed by land reforms. The activities include land develop-
the village community and it requires only the first ment, provision of irrigation and horticulture.
monsoon to utilise the water or to cultivate land According to the figures of the Ministry of Rural
developed and readied for farming. This experience Development, the poor possess more than 15 mil-
is clearly quite contrary to the common understand- lion hectares of land - Government assigned, ceiling
ing of rural works as the construction of roads surplus and bhoodan, as recorded tenants, lands
which are washed away with each monsoon. restored to tribal communities. At present, these
These assets are in the most backward pockets of lands are often left fallow or produce one crop with
the country - arid, tribal, often inaccessible - where a low yield. Such lands invariably have no source of
only marginal investments, or none at all, would irrigation, are away from the village and are unde-
have gone in the ordinary course. This is also of veloped. But they share an important feature - they
special relevance today with greater concern for are invariably in compact blocks and are therefore
water, global warming and climate change. suitable for integrated development packages.
Although less than half the works taken up during These holdings could therefore be transformed into
the year were completed by March 2007, their exe- productive farming units, often with irrigation from
cution is a continuous process and more would have wells, tanks, other water harvesting structures, lift
been completed by the end of the working season in irrigation schemes.
June. The expenditure was also not insubstantial - This happened in Maharashtra under the
about Rs. 9,000 crores. The average expenditure per Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) started in
district was Rs. 45 crores, but this went up to more the 1970s. Investments were made on private land
than Rs. 100 crores in some States. Such levels of holdings for land development, irrigation and plan-
investment on these works, sustained over the tations, and medium and large farmers took advan-
years, will have a visible impact on the landscape of tage to bring in a horticulture revolution - the area
rural India. under fruit crops went up almost six-fold, from 1.7
14 Transparency Review July, 2008
lakh ha to 9.7 lakh ha in the 10 years 1990-2000. If enough staff, and what little there is, is not trained
similar works under the employment guarantee are for the work and responsibilities cast upon it by the
taken up on the lands of the poor, the 15 million employment guarantee; there is also no arrange-
hectares will make a perceptible contribution to ment for planning at the field level, no Annual Plans
agricultural production. Let us recall that the gross by the gram panchayat, inadequate systems for
area under high yielding varieties of wheat and supervision and control. The legacy of earlier wage
paddy after the green revolution was about 35 mil- employment schemes has continued, with the pre-
lion hectares, and that this transformed the food- dominance of official decision making, often in
grains scenario in India. combination with the influence of powerful local
The Common Minimum Programme of the UPA interests. This is changing, but slowly. We need to
and the recently announced Land Policy both put in place a stronger support structure as recom-
emphasise precisely such programmes. The mended also by the CAG. It is necessary to invest in
NREGA provides the opportunity to make it hap- systems and enable them to stabilise for democratic
pen - not as a welfare measure, but rather as an annual plans, for effective implementation and
assertion of the contribution which the poor make to accountability to become the norm at the panchay-
India's development. Capital investments in rural at, block and district levels.
infrastructure at its best, for, benefits go directly to Capital formation under the employment guaran-
the poor - there is perhaps a lesson here for the tee programme has taken place in spite of these
Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF). severe handicaps. Much more can be achieved.
There are other possibilities, many of which do There has been an aggressive urgency in attracting
not require additional funds; only a reorientation of overseas capital to India; can a similar concern also
existing schemes, coordination in decision making be shown for a programme of capital investment
between the Centre and the States, and integrated that we ourselves have initiated, and one which has
action in implementation. Thus, programmes for great potential and meaning for the nation's
watershed development, drinking water, agricul- development?
ture, horticulture, farming systems, fisheries, hand- At the policy level there appears to be a diffidence
looms, handicrafts - each can synergise with the about the NREGA, and a predilection towards
employment guarantee, enhance production from wanting to come to the conclusion that it has failed.
rural areas, increase the contribution of the primary It is simply not enough to legislate, budget and
sector to the economy and impact on the GDP. leave it to a single Ministry to deliver a transforma-
There are several examples of how this can be done tion. It is essential also to plan for, to invest in, and
for different occupational groups like marginal to put in place, the mechanisms and the personnel
farmers, fishermen, weavers, landless agriculture required for its successful implementation - other-
labour - godowns, worksheds, common facility wise we would only be planning for its failure. This
centres, small harbours, plantations on common programme is more difficult and far more complex
lands with tree pattas and so on. The potential has than the green revolution was, but it has not been
not even begun to be explored, but it is greater than given the priority, the drive and the urgency it
the green revolution. It is perhaps also more signif- deserves.
icant, for, it will not be confined to the relatively There is all round concern at the slow rate of
better off irrigated areas, and will directly benefit growth in agriculture and the allied sectors, at the
the poor. widening gulf between urban and rural areas and at
There have undoubtedly been problems, also the growing disparities between the rich and the
reports of leakages and misappropriation, ineffi- poor. The Employment Guarantee can make a vital
ciencies in implementation. However, as the draft difference. But to recognise, and act on this,
CAG report has pointed out, there is not even requires determination - and the will.
(The author is a former Director General of the National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad)
July, 2008 Transparency Review 15
A LIFELINE FOR THE POOR
"Why can't they keep the schools open during paid only Rs.30 a day," says an angry P.
summer," asks P. Somamma in Mosangi. A Mallamma in Mosangi. The record says they got
strange question, with the mercury blazing past Rs.84 a day. K. Kalamma says she has "worked
43 Celsius in the Nalgonda village and all of us for over a month, without being paid." Even a for-
cowering in the little shade we can find. mer deputy sarpanch, Saiddulu, has not been paid
"Why would you want to send the kids to school for a week's work. He is well over 60 - yet anoth-
in this heat, Somamma?" er older person returning to work, driven by food
"At least there," she says, "they got one decent costs. But he is clear that the work the NREGA
meal a day. I can't afford to give them one now, brings is "very vital to us. It should run well, that's
during the vacation." all."
In Kondapur in Mahbubnagar district, Three major issues confront a programme that is
Bharatamma echoes that demand. "When the the lifeline of these communities at this time. Two
schools are closed, there is no mid-day meal. That of these are built into it. "Why only 100 days of
means, instead of getting to work," ask people. And they
eat, the children go to work. do not get those 100 days
How else does the family fully. The second is the rule
manage?" Hit by rising food of only one member per
prices, poor families can't family being able to use it.
afford one more meal. For In Andhra Pradesh, very
those with two children in sensibly, field assistants at
school, the costs really go NREG sites are breaking
up. When the schools are that rule. It is possible to see
open, you can find some husband and wife together
young ones saving a part of at the same site. That's as far
their meal for a hungry as it goes, though.
grandparent at home. Poor families see them-
Back in Mosangi, selves as a collective. "One
Somamma's son Bikshapati family member cannot go to
says he preferred the mid- Guntur to work and another
day meal at school to food at to the site," says Lashkar in
home. "It was better," he Lambapur village. Splitting
says. "We got dal, rice, Lakshmammaagainst thepowerfulwork will continue. up is bad economics. A
But she's up a combine of forces
tomatoes, rasam, even entrenched in the countryside and ensconced in day's wage at a brick kiln
eggs." Much of that is Delhi's power elite. might be less than what it is
beyond his family's reach for NREG work. But
now. If he and his family are able to pull on at all, though brick kilns are brutal and exploitative, all
it's because of the work the National Rural members of a family can work there - and for
Employment Guarantee Act brings to their vil- more than a hundred days. These two restrictions
lage. In Mosangi, there is bitterness over how it hobble a programme people say they badly need.
has worked. In Kondapur, where it has done bet- Third are the usual local problems. Payment
ter, there are some complaints. Yet, in the eyes of delays for one. Though Andhra Pradesh seems to
all them, this is the most important programme be ahead of several other States, this remains a
the countryside has seen in years. problem. "People here have waited four months to
There are complaints of rip-offs. "We've been get much less than what was owed to them," says
16 Transparency Review July, 2008
Mallamma. "People are recorded as working services like health has risen slightly. NREG
when they did not work. Others are not recorded work has been a lifejacket in the flood waters of
as working when they did," says B. Ramaiah in the price rise. And no other programme has had
Vadlaparthi village of Nalgonda. Lambapur in the the positive impact on distress migrations that it
same district throws up this kind of paradox. This has achieved.
is a village where NREG work has dramatically "It is not just low level officials," laughs a very
curbed migrations. There is no one who will tell senior official in Delhi. "There is hostility right
you things have not improved. Yet, most "pass- here at top levels of bureaucracy and politicians.
books" show zero days of work. This is an adivasi There are efforts on to make it less attractive to
'tanda' with very low literacy and education. The people needing work. Complaints that the
records are a mess and a formal audit would con- NREGA is raising wages and hurting farmers are
clude there has been being used to push
a disaster. But for limiting that
Lambapur has done wage. And making
well out of the even those 100 days
NREGA. To make it of work harder to
more complex, the access. This would
reverse could be be disastrous. But it
true in Mosangi. seems certain such
The records would efforts will soon
show Mosangi has follow."
done better, which it "Of course, there
has not. Everywhere is much scope for
is the backlash from improvement," he
the old contractor-local official-low bureaucracy says. "You could get people to participate more in
that feels threatened by the NREGA. Capturing choosing the kind of works needed locally. We
the records and the process is part of the fight- could provide better technical support and advice.
back. In at least two other States, activists pro- Restrictions on the number of days and family
moting the NREGA have been killed. members could be sorted out by making it more
Yet Andhra Pradesh has fared better, thanks to the universal." And by aligning it to works that bene-
growing awareness of people of their rights. Even at fit the whole community, including local farmers,
the start, 2.7 million people applied for job cards in some of those other problems could also be met.
the first month after the programme was In Tatikolu village, Lakshmamma hopes the
announced. From top officials in the State's programme will continue. She is up against a
NREGA team to unions of landless labourers, many powerful combine of forces entrenched in the
have worked hard to promote the programme countryside and ensconced in Delhi's power elite.
In this process, a small but vital reordering of A widow with young children, she finds it hard to
power relations is under way. The NREGA is hav- get work at the site to begin with. Seated in her
ing multiple and layered effects. With better bleak home, she wonders when her food supply
wages, the bargaining power of the weakest has will run out. And hopes the NREG work won't.
gone up a notch. For some, their access to costly "Without it, I don't know what we would do."
(Courtesy: The Hindu)
July, 2008 Transparency Review 17
SOCIAL AUDIT ACTIVIST MURDERED
Lalit Kumar Mehta, a close aide of Jean Dreze, who was fighting for social
audit of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in
Chatarpur block of Jharkhand's Palamau district, was recently found murdered.
Mehta had dropped Dreze, who is considered the architect of the NREGS, at a
cyber cafe in Daltonganj and was on his way back to Chatarpur when he is
believed to have been waylaid and killed.
Dreze had come to attend a public meeting on social audit of the NREGS, to be
held the next day. The meeting had been organised by Mehta. Just hours ahead
of the meeting, the 32-year-old's bruised body was found in the Kandra forest
area of Palamau.
"Mehta had been involved in verification of muster rolls. These revealed high
levels of corruption involving people in high places. The brutality of the murder
makes us believe that it was not a robbery." said Dreze, who is conducting an
audit in Palamau district in Jharkhand,
In Chatarpur and its neighbouring areas, Mehta had been fighting for proper
implementation of the NREGS. He was also the founder of an NGO, Vikas
Sahyog Kendra (VSK), which is credited with having successfully supervised con-
struction of over 110 check dams in drought-prone Palamau since 1997.
"The social audit of the NREGS was on top of Lalit's agenda. We always appre-
ciated it as we believe in transparency," Palamau Deputy Commissioner N P
Singh. Social audit of the NREGS is an effort to know field-level problems in the
implementation of the scheme, including problems faced by labourers, the qual-
ity of works, payment of wages, and maintenance of attendance register.
(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
MURDERER ARRESTED, SAYS GOVERNMENT
With the arrest of an alleged highway robber, 19- field along the highway in Bishrampur police sta-
year-old Behari Singh of the Chatarpur block in tion area, 10 km from Chatarpur, on May 15.
Palamau district, the police are claiming to have Apart from Dreze, a number of NGOs and social
cracked the Lalit Mehta murder case. "We now activists suspected that Mehta was murdered by
have enough evidence to prove that Mehta was people who siphoned off NREGS funds. While the
murdered by road robbers," said Palamau SP NGOs and social activists led by Dreze had
Deepak Verma. demanded a CBI probe into the case, the State
Behari was reportedly arrested from his father's Government had ordered the Crime Investigation
house in Kundoli village, 2 km from Chatarpur, Department to inquire into it. Last month, Chief
on June 28. Police said Behari had confessed that Minister Madhu Koda recommended a CBI probe.
he and his accomplice, Raju Singh, killed Mehta. Asked if the police had gathered any clue about
Raju is wanted in at least two cases of highway Mehta's cellphone that he was carrying at the time
robberies. of his murder, Thakur said, "We have traced the
A case was lodged after the body of Mehta, a place where Raju was hiding. We will arrest him
close aide of economist Jean Dreze, was found in a soon and unearth Mehta's cellphone too."
(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
18 Transparency Review July, 2008
DREZE ALLEGES COLLUSION IN MURDER
Noted economist and National Rural Employment The first official report prepared by the district
Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) activist Jean Dreze lam- administration, on the May 15 murder of Mehta,
basted Jharkhand's Palamau district administration rejected the claims by NGOs and social activists that
and alleged the report on the murder of social activist the killing was linked to an audit by the social activist.
Lalit Mehta was a "cover-up job". In his report, Mehta had detected irregularities in
Dreze's criticism of the local administration came in works under the National Rural Employment
the wake of the first official report prepared by the Guarantee Scheme in the district.
Palamau district administration which rejected the The district administration report had also alleged
claims by NGOs and social activists, including Dreze, that Dreze, who is a member of the Central
that Mehta's murder had nothing to do with his social Employment Guarantee Council, was orchestrating
audit of NREG works in the district. a campaign to malign the district administration.
Dreze also said the report was aimed at diverting the In this context, Dreze has termed the report an act of
attention from serious investigation into the murder. intimidation that aimed at confusing the issues. "Like
"The report is a characteristic attempt to harass the murder itself, it (report) seems to be an act of
people who make complaints or enquiries that chal- intimidation," said Dreze. Dreze's statement holds sig-
lenge those in high places. Under the garb of an nificance as he is a member of the apex body to mon-
inquiry report, this document is a cover-up job itor the implementation of the rural job guarantee
aimed at confusing the issues and discouraging any scheme at the national level.
serious investigation of the nexus of corruption sur- The Centre has already written to Jharkhand Chief
rounding Lalit Mehta's murder," said Dreze in a Minister Madhu Koda 'advising' him to refer the case
written statement. to the CBI.
(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
ATTACK ON TEAM FLAYED
Political parties and civil rights groups here have local administration to the processes of social audit.
condemned the attack on the workers of Rozgar Evum "In our view the State Government had a direct role
Suchana Ka Adhikar Abhiyan, holding a social audit in the attacks on the social audit activists in Banswara
on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in December 2007 and now in Jhalawar. The
in Manohar Thana tehsil of Jhalawar district in Government does not want public scrutiny of NREGA
Rajasthan. They alleged tacit support of the State work. The decision on the part of sarpanches and gram
Government in the attacks as well as in the initial sevaks not to give information was not their own. The
reluctance on the part of local panchayat functionaries State Government and the Rural Development
in extending cooperation to the social audit, a manda- Department were behind the move," said the resolution
tory procedure under NREGA. signed by Prem Krishna Sharma and Ramakant
"The Government is trying to thwart a democratic Saxena among others.
process," said Dushyant Ojha, Secretary of the "The PUCL is of the view that the Rajasthan
Communist Party of India. "Social audits are the par- Government is not interested in carrying out any work
ticipatory part of democratic functioning. The under NREGS but wants to keep aside the money
Government in Rajasthan is only betraying its inherent sanctioned meant for it as election fund. Comptroller
despotic and authoritarian traits by trying to stop social and Auditor General's report too refers to the existence
audits in a public-oriented programme of the nature of of corruption in the scheme," the resolution noted. It
NREGS," he said. demanded an enquiry by the Anti-Corruption Bureau
The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), into misuse of funds allocated for the scheme.
Rajasthan, in a resolution expressed serious concern Two-dozen activist organisations, which met at
over the attacks on the activities of Right to Vinobha Gyan Mandir here, condemned the attack and
Information and NREGS and non-cooperation of the deplored the stand of the authorities .
(Courtesy: The Hindu)
July, 2008 Transparency Review 19
Right to Information
DEPARTMENT PULLED UP ON FILE NOTINGS
An insertion in the “Frequently Asked three days later on May 26, he appealed to DoPT
Questions (FAQ)” section of the Department of Director Chaitanya Prasad.
Personnel and Training’s (DoPT) website has Dhingra pleaded that he had applied for “copies
landed it in direct confrontation with the Central of the noting portion within 48 hours as per the
Information.Commission (CIC). RTI Act, which says the information sought shall
As per the “interpolation” in the form of a circu- be provided within 48 hours from the date of
lar issued on April 10, 2008, the department was receipt of the request if it concerns the life or lib-
presently under no obligation to disclose file not- erty of the person”. Five days later, on May 31, he
ings when sought under the Right to Information was going to retire because of the “recording of
(RTI) Act. wrong date of birth”. But his request was met
Reacting to it, Chief Information Commissioner with a denial on the basis of the circular.
Wajahat Habibullah has said, “The DoPT circular The DoPT goes on to acknowledge that the
cited above is curious in that it seeks to substitute “CIC in several cases has held that the ‘file not-
the law passed by Parliament with its own inter- ing’ is an integral part of a file and should be dis-
polation inserted on its website.” “This interpola- closed”, but points out that “the matter is under
tion was also, it appears, inserted not on the basis examination and decision taken would be com-
of any expert advice but on the recommendation municated to all concerned as and when taken”.
of Under Secretary (RM) Shri Rakesh Malhotra, “While the Act of 2005 incorporates other exemp-
at the time the DoPT was examining the upload- tions, it has not incorporated any such provision
ing in the FAQ section,” he adds. which will exclude the file notings from disclosure.
The circular drew CIC’s attention when it was Contrary to what has been submitted before us by
hearing an appeal of a senior IAS officer Des Raj the DoPT, it appears that Parliament, in fact, intend-
Dhingra from Haryana, who was denied access to ed that the file notings are no more exempted and
notings on his file despite requesting the department are to be made available to the people,” the CIC
that non-disclosure of the information within the noted.
next 48 hours would affect his “life and liberty”. Pointing out that decisions of Information
Dhingra had on May 23, 2008 sought to “per- Commissions to permit access to notings are
sonally examine” his file over doubts that his date “binding” on public authorities until and unless a
of birth was wrongly noted, solely due to which parliamentary amendment says otherwise, the
he was set to retire seven days later. However, the CIC directed the DoPT to disclose all file notings
department chose not to reply, following which, to Dhingra within a week.
(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
20 Transparency Review July, 2008
PDS RICE SMUGGLED OUT
Thousands of quintals of rice, meant for the North Chennai (Rs 62 lakh), Salem (Rs 45 lakh),
poor and needy through the PDS, was being Erode (Rs 53 lakh), Madurai (Rs 55 lakh) and
diverted to other states, alleged Opposition leader Nilgiris (Rs 17 lakh) was diverted to the black
and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalitha. market in 2007 alone. The total quantum of smug-
In a statement issued here, Jayalalitha, quoting gling during last year was over 1.09 lakh quintals
the official reply to a Right to Information Act worth Rs 11 crore, she said, quoting the reply to
query regarding rice smuggling, charged that over an RTI application.
1.09 lakh quintal PDS rice worth Rs 11 crore was She said when the Opposition and even some of
diverted from fair price shops (FPS) to the black the alliance parties raised the issue, authorities
market. registered cases against some individuals at a few
While the Rs 2 per kilogram of rice was touted places. However, the State Government had not
by the "minority DMK Government" as one of its shown any enthusiasm towards an earnest effort
achievements, the authorities had not bothered to to stop the smuggling or to bring the culprits to
monitor the implementation, she said. book. Though many other essential commodities
Detailing her allegation on the diversion, she like sugar and pulses were also being distributed
said rice from Coimbatore (worth Rs 1.16 cr), through the fair price shops, these commodities
Krishnagiri (Rs 98 lakh), Vellore (Rs 79 lakh), almost never reached the public, she added.
(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
RTI MAGIC WAND FOR VILLAGERS
For thousands of villagers in the villages there is district of UP 18 months after he had filed an RTI
a vital connection between the RTI Act and application.
NREGS. The first is used to get details of the Rao was asked to deposit Rs 1.58 lakh by the
works undertaken, and once the information is block development officials for information about
obtained, villagers use it to conduct social audits development works in 66 gram sabhas under
to verify if work shown as completed in official NREGA.He finally got the information on the
records was actually done. orders of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Information
If flaws are detected, the villagers lodge com- Commissioner.
plaints with senior Government officials. "Using In Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal another activist said:
both the Acts in tandem can help expose corrup- "Through RTI we have picked samples of a road
tion," said RTI activist Aruna Roy who had used in Model Town, north Delhi, in the presence of
the two laws to bring out irregularities in imple- municipal engineers to find out if the quality of
mentation of NREGA in Rajasthan. In some areas material used in road construction was right. Such
of Rajasthan, social audits on the basis of infor- attempts by us earlier had exposed corruption in
mation obtained under RTI has proved to be of road construction," he said.
help to villagers. With the success of the RTI in exposing leak-
"Using the two laws, villagers have been able to ages in government programmes, Roy, Pandey
get their legal right to wages and the minimum and Kejriwal want social auditing to be made
100 days of work (as mandated in NREGA)," Roy mandatory for every government programme.
said. This week Pandey and his colleagues started "It not only helps in exposing corruption but in
social audits on information provided to villager NREGA we have found it also acts as a
Yashwant Rao in Miyaganj block in Unnao deterrent," Roy said.
(Courtesy: Yahoo News)
July, 2008 Transparency Review 21
Published, owned & printed by Dr. N. Bhaskara Rao, CMS, Research House, Community Centre, Saket, New Delhi and printed at Pearl Printers,52,DSIDC SHED,Okhla Phase -1, New Delhi
RNI NO. DELENG/2008/23071
The Right to Information Act 2005 represents a historic breakthrough in
recognising the citizen's democratic rights to monitor measures affecting the
public good. Following adoption of the Act by the Parliament of India, the
Centre for Media Studies (CMS) set up a Transparency Studies wing to
document, examine and publicise the interrelation between governance and
society in all its aspects. It facilitates dissemination of relevant material,
confers with experts and field workers and networks with the media to
promote implementation and awareness.
The functions of Transparency Studies include:
Publishing and distribution by electronic mail of Transparency Review,
a journal designed to publicise news, articles and documentation
concerning developments in Right to Information and the overall
interface between governance and society. Priority is given to right to
education, especially of children; right to work; right to justice and
associated human and social rights, especially at the grassroots.
Operating Transparency Features to disseminate articles and
information on the above.
Linking with civil society groups to further common objectives like
exposing corruption, monitoring elections, improving civic services.
Arranging discussions on emerging issues and problems between
specialists and mediapersons.
CENTRE FOR MEDIA STUDIES (CMS)
Centre for Media Studies (CMS) is an independent professional forum
engaged in research, policy advocacy, advisory services and programme
evaluation. CMS promotes accountability, responsiveness and transparency
in policy-making in public systems and services. CMS debates and dialogues
on important public issues are appreciated nationally.
RESEARCH HOUSE, Community Centre, Saket, New Delhi-110 017
Phone: 26864020, 26851660 ; Fax: 011- 26968282
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